Tag Archives: murder

The Woman in Cabin 10, by Ruth Ware

2 Mar

3 of 5 stars

I’m not going to gush over this book, but I’m not going to hate on it either. It was fine. I listened to the audio version, and that made it a little difficult to follow all the characters, but overall it was narrated well and I don’t think it had an impact on my review.

But I didn’t love it. I don’t think it really falls into the “Mystery” genre, it was more in the Thriller category. “Gaslit woman terrorized on tiny cruiseship” is basically the plot. I did not like the intermittent sections of news that told what was happening on land at all. It was so bizarrely off from what was happening on board that I thought maybe this was supposed to be a sci-fi book and the ship had cruised into an alternate dimension. But no, it was just a bunch of stuff thrown in to throw you off, way way way off, so off that you don’t have the slightest clue what’s going on, much less understand the mystery.

Well, I guess that veered into “hate on it” territory. I didn’t hate the book. I enjoyed it while I was waiting for it to start making sense. But the problem is that the last third, once you’ve finally figured out what has actually been happening, really doesn’t make any sense – not any logical, realistic sense. And I just didn’t buy anything that was happening in the last few days of Lo’s time on board.

On the plus side…. I understand what the author was going for, which is a great murder mystery surrounded by the extra-legal situation of international waters. I think she had a great idea, and she does come close to a very Agatha Christie type story. She just doesn’t quite get there.

Well if you want a fairly easy read, with a lot of mystery and excitement, or want a modern-day Agatha Christie but don’t care a whole lot about logic and sense, then you might enjoy this. That sounds sort of sarcastic, but it’s not. Sometimes you need a Mission Impossible or a Bourne Identity, and sometimes you need a Woman in Cabin 10.

Let me give it a GIANT thumbs up for one thing: Titling it The WOMAN in Cabin 10, and not The Girl. Thank you Thank you Thank you for that.


Hidden Bodies (You #2), by Caroline Kepnes

1 Dec
hidden bodies caroline kepnes

Three of Five stars

I received this book from NetGalley to review, and I requested it because I loved “You” and adore my favorite serial killer Joe. I think this is a good solid book, and it’s fine as a sequel, but I just can’t say it was as good as the original.

There were a lot of wonderful things about “You”, enough to really push it to the highest 5 star level… but I found many of those things missing in this book. There were only a few recent pop culture references scattered throughout, and just about no book references except for Portnoy’s Complaint. I suppose those were replaced by the film and California culture references, but they weren’t the same.

In the original, Joe’s schizophrenic bi-polar brain was constantly changing its mind about the people he knew and the situations he was in. From page to page you didn’t know what mood he was going to be in… but this happened very rarely in “Hidden Bodies”. Yes, he changed several times, but it wasn’t near the ride that “You” was, in fact I think he spends an entire summer quite happily in this book and my attention started wandering. Who wants to see Joe happy all the time?

I found all of Joe’s stalking on social media in “You” to be quite hilarious and imaginative, but he doesn’t do that here, so that is missing – in fact he doesn’t stalk anyone in any way (other than Amy for a hot minute). And there’s none of the confusion for the reader about whether Joe is really crazy or if he’s no more crazy than the rest of us, or whether we’re cheering him on because he’s doing what we wish we could. In this book, when Joe is happy, he is happy, when someone is in the way, he kills them. And that’s about the whole story.

And because Joe has gotten so good at killing, he no longer really fears being caught. He fears his old mugofurine but not any of the murders in this book. So it becomes simply: This guy/girl is in my way, so now I will kill him/her, and now I go on with my life.

This may seem like I’m only complaining about this book, and I’m not, it’s quite good, but in reality I just cannot throw praise at it like I did “You”. I think my biggest problem is that there is no fun in Joe being happy. The best part of Joe is that he never wins, he is always the underdog, he always has to keep trying, and things are always just out of his reach. In “Hidden Bodies” he gets… everything. And though the ending is certainly not a cut & dry happy one, all signs point to happy ever after… and that means the end to Joe’s story.

Let me give a big plus for it: When we learn how someone has solved the mystery, it is a web of coincidences, outright mistakes, and mugofurines. Someone catches Joe using the same detective work that Joe used for his own prey. There was a fitting adversary out there afterall, and I loved all the connections and previous references.

But is it as good as “You”? Absolutely not. For me it’s just about a 3.5. However as a standalone I might have given it 4, so I’m bumping it there.
Should you read it? If you read “You”, you have to find out what happens to Joe. I won’t promise you’ll be satisfied with it, but neither will you think your time was wasted.

EDIT TO ADD 12-03-2015: I’m changing the rating to 3 stars. I’ve read over my review for “You” and it reminded me how wonderful that book was. As much as I love and respect Caroline Kepnes and her writing, if I have to be the sole voice of honesty here then I will: “Hidden Bodies” is only half as good as “You” and I just didn’t enjoy this one that much.  It wasn’t creepy, it wasn’t scary, I wasn’t rooting for Joe to succeed, and instead of rushing through the book with joy, it really dragged for me. I would read “You” over again, and even bought the Audiobook to listen to later, that’s how much I loved it. I won’t ever pick up “Hidden Bodies” again. Nothing of what I loved about “You” is in Hidden Bodies. So for an honest review, there you go.

Defending Jacob, by William Landay

28 Oct
THREE of FIVE stars

THREE of FIVE stars

I’m just going to have to be honest, I’m not super excited about this book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and I held my eyelids open as long as I could every night until it was done, but in the end it just wasn’t that great.

There were things I loved. The premise of your own child being suspected of murder, and how long you can hold your belief that they are innocent in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary. The Grand Jury framework that told you there was more to this story than we were led to believe. And I really really loved the narrator, for the same reasons others seem to not like him: There were clues dropped from the very beginning that Andy was not quite right, that he likely carried that special gene he’s worried about. It wasn’t that he used odd language, it was the language of another sociopath. You could see this in how he constantly described the behavior of others, his detailed descriptions of their motives, and his complete lack of understanding and misinterpreting of both. His complete lack of any real emotion all the way to the very end.

However it was the ending(s) that stole the whole thing. They dragged. They were abrupt. They were tied up with a bow. Because Andy is a completely unreliable narrator, we don’t really know for sure what happened. It was all just… a let down for me at the end. “And then now we’re done, The End.” That’s what it felt like.

But again, the rest was great. I wouldn’t argue with anyone about this book or discourage anyone from reading it, I just wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend it.

Black-Eyed Susans, by Julia Heaberlin

25 Oct
FIVE of FIVE stars

FIVE of FIVE stars

This was a little slow going for me in the beginning. It switches back and forth from 1995 to present day, and although that wasn’t confusing, the pieces of the story are sparsely given out, so it takes a long time before you understand what’s going on. But it’s not so bad that you should read all about it first, I went into it blind and you should too.

Other than that this was an impeccably well researched book, and definitely had an unexpected ending. It was so unexpected for me that I almost took off a star for being too unrealistic and out of left field… but then I kept thinking back on it and realized that it was definitely possible. I think the main problem was that I was so sure I had figured it out early on, and kept trying to make my suspect fit into the story all the way to the end, even when it was clearly not that person.

A lot of great imagery using books and art, little hidden nuggets of information foreshadowing that I really loved.

There is a pretty good size group of characters too, most of whom were really fleshed out, and not everything in their lives was wrapped up in a bow for us because we’re only hearing Tessa’s side of the story so we only know what she knows and/or what she chooses to share with us.

I love the framework of the OJ Simpson trial, the seperate storyline of an innocent man on death row, that the ex boyfriend and daughter’s father is not a stereotypical jerk, showing how prosecutors and defense attorneys can both be good and they can both be bad, and I really liked that not every detail of everything was explained to us. There are still a lot of things we don’t know at the end of the story, but they have nothing to do with the actual mystery, so it’s fine. I *almost* wish there could be a sequel, but I’m not sure that could be pulled off without crossing the line of believability.

Very much worth a read.